Friday, February 22, 2019

Why is she with him?

Perhaps when mankind was nothing more than a family of apes fighting over bones in front of a monolith on the set of a Kubrick they were already asking the petty but consequential question of 'why is she going out with that guy?' Moving rapidly through human history from the dawn of man in the late 60's through to the early 90's where Jerry Seinfeld observes a felt frustration by men at women reading articles like 'where to meet men.' Seinfeld's show 'Seinfeld' also had an episode dedicated to the impact of telling a woman 'you could do a lot better than him.'

Outrageous, sure, and downright unromantic are notions like 'how to spot a millionaire', 'punching above his weight' and 'reachers and settlers.' It's enough to make princess Jasmine burst into the throne room and tell Sultan, Jafar and Prince Ali Ababwa 'I am not some prize to be won!' It asserts a notion of a natural order, a hierarchy stratified into classes of attractiveness.

And yet, It also strikes me as a perfectly natural line of inquiry for trying to make sense of the world and our place in it, in relation to one of the historically most consequential undertakings for creating the very thing that asks this question.

Now, admittedly this question has it's origins in pure superficiality. What is a loser after-all? I certainly have the experience of being introduced to some bombshell friends short dumpy balding boyfriend and wondered 'what went wrong there?' but having interacted with this visually unimpressive specimen, everything clicks into place - the guy has charm, charisma, he's a real mensch. He's kind, reliable, responsible, sociable and I move on to wondering 'how can I be less superficial.'


This cropped up on my Pinterest feed, and let's not go into what algorithms were working on what search history to think I'd find this particular photo pinteresting... it's more that it struck me as very rare to see this occur in nature, in the wild. A double coincidence of superficial attractiveness.
If the pictured couple are both '10s' being professional models in the prime of their career, when I think about it, it's also rare to see a couple and think 'yeah, she's about a 6 and he's about a 6'.

So this is the crux, losers come in all shapes and sizes, even my shape and size. I certainly don't exclude myself and only my ex's and female friends can testify as to whether I'm fit to date anyone. A loser is as a loser does.

I'm basically thus, talking about bad boyfriends henceforth referred to as losers. And while it is of much higher consequence to me to ponder how I might wind up with a loser woman and thus avoid it...

Confession, there's few couples I envy, mainly my interest in seeing a woman where I feel her partner is beneath her has traditionally been a selfish interest. If she's a 5 dating a harmless old 3, and I'm a 5 then surely a 7 is within my reach?! That kind of selfish.

And yeah, there is a situation I do really dislike being in, and that is meeting a female friend's partner and dominating him. You probably picture us trying to break each other's hands in a hand shake or something, going red in the face and grinding our teeth until he yells uncle. But it isn't like that at all, most of the time relative status is not only unambiguous but unconscious. He'll shrink away in the conversation, she will orient her shoulders, feet and pelvis toward me and give me the attention. This makes me incredibly uncomfortable as I sympathetically travel into this couples car-ride home.

Most consequently though, I really, really dislike hearing the post-mortem of just how abusive a loser boyfriend can be. I know of guys that had abusive girlfriends, partners. I know they exist. But I've now heard a depressing number of times (okay, once is depressing enough, but a brief inventory came up with 17) of just how abusive losers can be. Fortunately, as yet, none of these losers has killed any of my friends, but the costs are severe and serious. They've really fucked some of my friends up with their behavior. Furthermore, investing several years in a loser of a relationship is a kind of death-by-installments, it costs women precious time.

I know I'm superficial, and judgmental, but I would be clear that what I am NOT saying, is that anyone deserves to be with a loser. There are fates worse than being single, and being stuck with someone who cannot love themselves is one of those worse fates. Guys who act like losers deserve to be with a competent and compassionate therapist to work out their shit until such a time as they are fit to date anyone.

Now I have speculative theories as to how this phenomena might occur in nature, broken up into headings. Feel no obligation to read on because this is if anything a MEGAPOST such that for the first time ever, I felt it requires a table of contents so you can pick any part that might interest you like a menu:

1. Because your daddy was a loser - In which I talk about attachment theory, how our childhood experiences might condition women to select loser partners.
2. Baby needs his mama - where a woman might treat a partner functionally like a pet they can have sex with. A child substitute.
3. It's the Economy Stupid Part 1 - where I explore how access to birth control gave men all the power in relationship markets.
4. It's the Economy Stupid Part 2 - where I speculate how women might further erode their market power.
5. If You Don't Know Me By Now - where I speculate on how women may simply be incompetent at selecting non-loser men.
6. It's the Economy Stupid Part 3 - in which I speculate as to how women might overestimate their ability to turn a guy around.
7. A Slave to Love or a Lover of Slaves - in which I speculate as to how women might be confusing an absence of evidence for an evidence of absence of qualities that make a loser.
8. All is Fair in Love and War - in which I speculate as to why lower quality guys might be more motivated to use unethical tactics for securing a partner.
9. If You Don't Know You By Now - where I speculate as to how women might undervalue themselves.
10. A Double Coincidence of Wrongs - where I touch on self-verification choosing a male that reinforces a woman's low self-esteem.
11. Risk Follows Reward - where I speculate that a higher fear of rejection might result in women settling for lower quality partners.
12. Jealousy May Work On Mars - where I speculate how playing jealousy games might result in lower preference partners.
13. Haters Gonna Hate - where I speculate that women might get handicapped by their peers.
14. Conclusion - Spoiler Alert, I don't have none.
15. Postscript - where I try to justify the danger I perceive in getting partner choice wrong.

Because Your Daddy was a Loser, Your Grandaddy was a Loser and your Grandaddy's Daddy was a Loser...

Of all the speculative explanations I'll explore; Attachment theory is the best substantiated, and subscribed to by professionals and for any ladies out their with a long history of disappointment with guys turning out to be losers and confused as to how they keep finding them, you should take a dive into attachment theory.

Attachment theory. Pop-philosopher Alain De Botton bangs on about this a lot, to the point where his video's might become repetitive, but take his revisiting as a vote of confidence that it is something worthy of examination. I might simplify it into 2 components, 1) your origin story and 2) how you attach as an adult.

De Botton articulates fairly well that we aren't actually looking for someone who will make us happy, but someone who is familiar. Somebody who makes us suffer in the necessary way to make us feel that the love is real.

I have female friends that have dated guys that look superficially identical to the last guy they dated. I know women who have exhibited the mysterious phenomena of breaking up with a good boyfriend or divorcing a nice husband and then get themselves into an abusive relationship, dispelling any notion that with relationship experience we get cumulatively better at picking partners. Though I am not a woman, this great leap backwards happened to me to an extent.

Why can't we learn? Attachment theory.

Dr Gabor Mate, in talking about early childhood development as a consequence of anxious or stressed parenting says that in worst cases the brain will actually wire up in such a way that the regulation of cortesol and perhaps other stress hormones (I'm not the doctor he is) result in an adult that will mistake danger for safety and safety for danger.

Neuro-chemistry aside, what that basically means is that we all tend to feel comfortable at home, and what our home is like is somewhat arbitrary, the result of an ovarian lottery. Thus some people will feel at home in a Mansion and others at home in a crack-house. If you suddenly switched the two, both would become uncomfortable, even though the relative dangers are not equal. (classist I know, but hopefully it illustrates the point.)

Therapist Marissa Peer says we all emerge from childhood with a story, often a sad story and in adulthood we seek to reenact that story and change the ending, where we actually need to change the beginning. Nassim Nicholas Taleb (not in the relationship or psychotherapy games at all) has done a lot of work to establish that human beings think in terms of narratives, and coined terms like 'the narrative fallacy' our tendency to post hoc fabricate a story to explain events (perhaps better known as rationalizing) and therefore render ourselves oblivious to obvious truths... like that we are dating a turd.

I personally have found a reliable producer of true statements is that: the behavior a person will tolerate tells you how they esteem themselves. This applies to the attachment styles wherein women let guys (or girls) treat them like shit because their dad did. Their dad deflated their esteem early, and the child believing erroneously in the omniscience of a parent, internalizes the treatment consciously or unconsciously as what they must deserve. This feeling, this esteem is preserved into adulthood if not consciously falsified and puts a woman in the position of having to approach dating counter-intuitively, cognitively, consciously where; to the limits of my ability to empathize, it probably feels wrong to be treated with dignity and respect. Like growing up in the ghetto and then one day being invited to dinner in a rich persons house, and feeling uncomfortable about touching anything, sneezing or using their toilet.

A particular kind of loser daddy, is the baby daddy who flees the scene. Recently depicted in the Mexican Movie available on Netflix everywhere 'Roma', this is more mysterious to me because there's one poignant message rather than repetitive behavior reinforcing a message on a daily basis throughout childhood development. I must plead a higher degree of ignorance of the workings of attachment theory in the case of absentee fathers, I don't know enough about childhood development to be sure of when an infant child really becomes aware of and forms attachment to a father figure, since mother is the one true God I'm pretty sure for the early days out of the womb.

I'm also ignorant of  whether a child intuitively feels a need for a father figure and can notice an absence, until such a time as they are exposed to having a father as a social norm - by developing language skills and socializing or being exposed to narratives etc. I don't know, but I will bet that no dad or father figure is not a neutral position in developing an attachment style or healthy self esteem.

I would be curious to hear if there's a pronounced difference in the effect of children whose fathers died shortly after conception through accident or ailment, versus deadbeats who hit it and quit it. For now I would defer to all the psychologists who no doubt were called to testify in hearings as to whether same-sex couples be permitted to adopt, that I assume there is a meaningful difference.

I like attachment theory because it makes sense, I find it analogous to Newton's first law - a child is born, it observes how the male role interacts with the female role through the almost sole example of mum and dad. The significance of this is that your attachment style may not come from how a parent treated you, but how they treated the parent with whom you most identified. Thus if mother is anxious-insecure in her attachment style, needs constant validation, constant reassurance and father simply tolerates this behavior, puts up with it but is otherwise decent, a daughter may still be released on a trajectory of likely loser abuser partner.

The mother in this case may have escaped herself, a dance of generations, her own anxious attachment style based on your grandfather (maternal) being a loser, and mum has managed to land a decent, maybe even good guy, but she can't believe it and probably there's a decent chance the daughter will internalize that her mother is lucky to have dad, or worse, lucky to have anyone. And she goes out into the cesspool that is the dating scene with a low self esteem, she interacts with guys like her mother does timidly, or needily and it unfortunately is more likely to snag a guy like her grandfather than her father.

This last point, is I feel a big one, an unavoidable one which is we often are cutting down our options and filtering for certain partners while not conscious that we are doing it. It's not that selecting a partner is a mysterious process but more that it is often mysterious to ourselves.

Putting all else aside, I assume nobody hasn't heard the saying 'girls marry their fathers'. Lets look at how that might work, with something as benign as 'sense of humor' a daughter's dad, loves puns. Intelligence though not completely understood, is hereditary and by symmetry, so is stupidity. So chances are, the daughter will be sufficiently stupid to get into puns. In her teens when she goes to parties, she is going to laugh at the guys that make puns instilling in them a confidence that other women don't, these are the guys that become her friends, then her boyfriends.

There are myriad behaviors we model off our parents that create a jigsaw puzzle like self-fulfilling prophecy. Humor, eating habits, whether you notice people getting left out and draw them into conversation or whether you obliviously talk over the top of the less vocal people. We wind up connecting with the people who understand how that model works, because that's how they were modeled too.

Thus I feel everyone should dig into not just attachment theory and taking crappy net-quizzes of 'what is your attachment style' but going deep into an examination of your own behavior and what responses to the behavior it predicts. I've been using 'we' a lot in this section not because I'm with you ladies, but because attachment theory is universal and I spend a lot of cognitive energy digging into my own. If you have a history of abusive relationship, I would say fucking drop everything else,

Dating apps are a whole other post, but so powerful are attachment styles that it appears, according to online dating experts like Helen Fisher (who consults for eharmony to the best of my knowledge) possibly exacerbates the effects of attachment theory, rather than diminishing it. I don't have much experience of online dating, but the anecdotal evidence at my disposal supports the exacerbate hypothesis. (Serendipitously, as I was writing this, I caught up on the Qi episode 'procrastination' where their research, much more thorough than mine says that dating apps are abysmal at matching people.)

Before moving on, there's another dimension not of the theory, but the word 'attachment' itself that can explain women rocking a loser guy on their arm through the village square. This is that sex and particularly skin-to-skin contact fosters attachment at the hormonal level. In which case we are talking about a somewhat arbitrary but very real addiction to people. Because I feel most people are common sense dualists, this form of sexual attachment is underrated, because people think they consciously choose their partners, author their own thoughts, are with their partners for a reason, a reason they understand. However the addiction to oxytocin probably comes first and the choice of partner is justified.

At any rate, just 'hanging out' with a guy 'no strings attached' because you 'may as well' may also contribute to women waking up one day wondering why that loser is still hanging around.

Baby Needs his Mama

In about grade 5 or so, one of my favorite friends told me the following sexist joke, we would have been around 11 or 12 years old:

A millionaire decides he wants to get married. He is looking at three possible women to marry. He decides to give each of them $10,000. The first woman spends it all on shopping, clothes, makeup etc. the second woman spends half of it on shopping, and half of it she puts in the bank. The third woman doesn't spend any of the money putting it all in the bank or investments. Which one does the millionaire choose? 
The one with the biggest tits. 

I'm aware this post carries all the risks of the ambiguity in the term 'loser'. And rightly so, here I want to look more specifically at whether a cultural phenomena of the 'infantilism' of men is in part being facilitated by the sexual selection of women. Which is a round about way of saying a cultural migration of women not picking men as prospective fathers to their children, but picking men as a vicarious child for them to take care of.

I feel it is worth pointing out that much of the 'cute' shit couples do, that may make them unbearable to their friends, like pet-names, baby-talking to each other, sulking, play-wrestling etc. is best explained as a form of unconscious role-playing test to gauge each other's merits as a prospective parent. Daniel Goleman writes about this in social intelligence. That test works best if both parties are transitioning from parent to child. It works less well if the role play is just single mother looking after her 30 year old dependent.

So if we were to gender bend the above joke, with a female millionaire distributing cash gifts to three guys. Could a workable punchline possibly be: 'she picks the one with the least going on' 'the one with the least ambition.' 'the one who is most dependent.'?

Now the term 'infantalism' I took from Stephen Fry, in his unfortunate interview on the Rubin Report, which is not worth linking to. He lists a bunch of symptoms though - eating pappy mush that doesn't require a knife and fork, in a baseball hat while drinking sugary drinks, and going to the movies exclusively to see super hero films. All things that were up until recent times associated with the consumption choices of children.

Now, clearly, I am not a master of the English language, nor etymology but 'infantalism' strikes me as implying that an ideology is being adopted, a popular movement where men wish to become children. 'Infantilization' is what I would probably prefer as terminology which suggests being shaped and conditioned by a process or environment.

To me, it isn't hard to explain nor substantiate how men may have been infantilized. Firms within our economy basically exist to create ever more convenient solutions in the hope that people will pay a premium for that convenience rather than solve problems themselves. (for example, consider the evolution of cooking for oneself, to cooking at a camp fire to Inn kitchen's providing meals to travelers, to providing meals to locals, to becoming restaurants, to become franchises, to having drive-thru windows, to having delivery, to having phone aps and 'gig-economy' delivery services.) And given the transition from the 'stakeholder' intuition to the 'shareholder' paradigm, you combine that with declining real wages, declining job security, increased working hours, increased commute times and an ageing population creating career path bottlenecks for Gen-X down then it is not amazing that the trajectory of history is that childhood is lasting longer and longer.

Furthermore, it's not a mystery as to why men might be able to wallow in childhood longer than women can - it's the biological clock meaning men can put off 'growing up' into being a responsible parent almost indefinitely.

What is a mystery is why women might select basically a dead-weight-man-child rather than furiously competing and colluding to reward emotional maturity and financial independence in men. At least with an explanation that sets aside attachment theory.

I was having a conversation with my friend about my own superficiality, and she made an interesting digression into female superficiality. So while it isn't my assertion, I prefer to defer to women's opinions on the women where I can:
"Women are superficial. There has to be something about a guy that attracts them. Now, this may not come in the form of say looks but in the form of ‘what can I do with this man?’. More so from a ‘what does he need from me that I can give’. That’s still superficial as you’re seeking something that you can see, feel or intuit on the surface."
In seeking clarification over the semantic use of 'superficial' I eventually asked 'so superficiality masquerading as altruism?' which she said was correct.

While it's rare for me to encounter women who describe themselves as superficial, it is within my experience to know women who 'need to be needed'. Which I understand (possibly to a level of personally experiencing this mindset) as almost a form of relationship leverage. Where what is sought is not happiness but a substitute of security, a basis of confidence that the partner cannot, or is unlikely to profit from leaving you. Basically if the relationship dynamic is that your boyfriend is 'lucky to have you' a woman can feel a much greater sense of security than if the consensus view was that she is 'lucky to have him'. I feel obliged to point out that in the former you get a much lesser sense of good fortune though, and that the ideal is that the consensus view would be that you are lucky to have each other.

There is a counter argument (specifically number 3 in this listicle) that I will link to here rather than rehash and only say I willingly entertain it because it is consistent with efficiency wage theory. My anecdotal experience however is that boyfriends tend more to be enabled than motivated.

I keep thinking of the scene in the Aviator where Howard Hughes goes to the Hepburn's for dinner. If you've never seen it, the scene is here but the key exchange is the bold proclamation 'we don't care about money here' and Hughes correcting 'that's 'cause you have it. You don't care about money because you've always had it.'

When my mother was graduating from highschool, some esoteric process she refers to as 'matriculating' she said you were basically weighing up the career options of being a teacher or a nurse. Social mobility was dependent almost entirely on marrying it. Now women in the west are born with socio-economic opportunities approaching parity with their male counterparts, such that in the US according to an NBC poll, female breadwinner households are up from 37% of employed women to 49% betwixt 2000 and 2018.

So quite suddenly, in the space of half a century we went from nurses gold-digging for doctors, to doctors marrying doctors and nurses supporting man-children. What happens when women no-longer care about the material quality of life a man can contribute to a relationship because they can provide it for themselves to greater satisfaction? What exactly does a man then bring to the relationship? Personality or...


This sticker design has been in my head for a while, and my motivations/inspiration were mostly facetious, elitist, spiteful and resentful. Predominantly though concerned with the infantilization of men. It has it's genesis in a recorded but never published podcast with my friend titled 'good times for unattractive dudes' where she offered me various insights namely on why nerds/geeks were suddenly acceptable boyfriends. On the subject of why geek culture had ascended I found her theory interesting that nerdboys 'wanted to reconnect with a time when they played with toys and someone would pick up after them.' I find this a beguiling theory.

Well, the easy explanation would be, these are the men that are available. But some women appear to like the baby-daddy-but-hold-the-daddy-part.

Indeed this exists, and the web comic seemed to draw a fan base. People who feel it is cute and romantic, to basically hang around in a bedroom all the time, while a guy is distracted by video-games. It's nothing new to romanticize unrequited love. Nor is it unprecedented for women to fall in love with addicts. However if one was to instead of drawing a comic, draw very simple diagrams of where the energy goes in the relationship I imagine it would simply look something like this:

gal > guy > computer.

And yes, increasingly we live in a world that I don't quite understand where focusing intently on video games can bring with it an income, such that the world can produce a celebrity gossip story like this.

However, the income of 'pro-gamers' rides on the discretionary incomes of others. In other words, a few guys might be able to parasitically absorb big bucks from a diaspora of fans that are working 40 hours a week as a Subway Sandwich artist. The rest of the gamer guys are living off their girlfriends.

In this regard, an unintended side effect of the democratizing of socio-economic opportunity to women, becoming independent women by the standards of Beyonce; could be that women are relieved of much pragmatism in their partner consideration. Particularly if they are facing the balancing act of career ambitions and family. In which case the boyfriend starts to fulfill the same function as a pet.

An economic burden with which you can direct your affections and in return feel some affection back from. A way to appease whether by nature or nurture maternal instincts and also use up excess cognitive capacity by worrying about their welfare as a mother might a child. I feel, that perhaps, a dog is a much better option than a boyfriend in these cases though. You are much less likely to feel resentment from a dog for trying to take care of it, nor will a dog worry about you leaving it for other dogs and thus get into controlling behavior. On the plus side of getting a pet/baby boyfriend, you can have sex with them which you can't do with a pet or baby.

I feel it necessary to point out, that I'd never believe this behavior to be fully conscious. I don't think there are women that are all 'Nope, I don't want a man with a job, with his life together, I want someone utterly dependent on me like a baby but that is already 30.' I feel it is unconscious, based in low self-esteem or something. What women who date baby-men consciously think is that their love will inspire a man to actually get his life together.

Superficiality masquerading as altruism.

It's the Economy Stupid I: Disrupted Markets

One of the things that makes sighting a beautiful woman on the arm of a schlub so intriguing, is my intuition that when it comes to coupling and copulating, men are the beggars and women are the choosers. It does appear to hold, for example, that men tend to still 'make the move' whether it is asking a woman out for coffee or asking her to dance, or asking to walk her home, or drunkenly latching onto her and hoping for the best.

However, here is an area where I can defer almost entirely:


I'd just guess, that you might be able to substitute in 'novelty' and 'relationship' terminology for the video's 'sex' and 'marriage' market.

The video seems to lean towards women recapturing market power by effectively organizing to increase the price of sex. There's another possible suggestion that women looking for relationships try and strike the age-equilibrium with men who are 'over' novelty sex and becoming more concerned about how old they will be at their children's graduation, whether they can conceive children or not at age 60.

It's just that what that equilibrium age may be is ambiguous, even to me now in my mid-30s.

I also recall Louis CK talking about his experience of dating younger women, this was prior to his fall. Where he stated 'I knew what they were going to think before they did.' of which I'll be charitable and assume he wasn't referring to what they'd think about witnessing him masturbate. But it is true of age gaps in my experience, and I guess offers an additional layer of risk-return. People underestimate how predictable their behavior is, largely because experience has not yet driven them to examine it. By and large though, people are not creative and original thinkers, they deal with their depression and anxiety through self-medicating, their attachment styles lead to nagging or sulking, or cheating etc.

This poses a potential return to someone dating a partner more mature, that they've learned through hard experience how to handle your particular relationship quirks, it may though carry the risk that they will be quite adept at manipulating you because they understand your psychology better than you do. I guess what I'm saying is, emotional maturity is the premium, but in it's younger incarnations they may only be up for fun and exploration, not commitment.

How though, do these market dynamics of supply and demand explain women dating men who are beneath them? Well, that video pointed out that there are more men than women in the 'sex' market, and more women than men in the 'marriage' market. If guys at the same age as women are predisposed to seek sex without commitment - then migration to a sex with commitment market for men will be motivated by age... OR an inability to compete in the sex without commitment market. Men who don't look good, are socially awkward and inept, and dull with contrived opinions. Men who basically cannot hold a woman's interest and attention in any way shape or form, are likely to find their best source of sex is in a committed relationship. Because they don't have to compete for LL Cool J for Big Ole Butts, and the Big Ole Butts won't compete for them.

So there's older guys, and younger-worser guys available. This is hard for me to see, but the economics is sound.

It's the Economy Stupid II Stupidity Squared

Markets, markets, markets.

What market do you have access to? Again I'll defer to Seinfeld:


This actually comes from trying to understand my own superficiality which is a separate post topic, but what Seinfeld and George articulate in 44 seconds is the illusion that we are surrounded by people. The phenomena of mismatched couples, even on the most superficial and arbitrary numerical scale.

Suppose that in the world for every woman who is a 10, however you might calculate that, there's a corresponding man who is a 10, and so forth on downwards.

Now, imagine you are told you have two people who between them earn a billion dollars a year, what's the most likely distribution of incomes? A statistician or person who has just completed a semester on probability at school might think what is most likely is that both people would earn on average half a billion dollars. However, in practice what is most likely is that one person has all 1 billion dollars and the other earns nothing at all.

What's statistically unlikely is to pick a billionaire out of the pack, but once that's a given, it's far more likely than randomly selecting out of the world's population two people who earn half a billion a year, given the median average annual income per-capita globally in 2019 is $2,920 after all.

So for most people, most people are strangers. And strangers have a bad reputation, our relationships are facilitated by the social situations we are in - school, work, sporting clubs and connections that are facilitated through the people we meet through these channels.

Which means we might all spend quality time with some 30-60 people. Half of them abouts heterosexual women won't be compatible with. Then if it's a work situation for example, some chunk of the men will be too old, some too young, some won't be available by virtue of being in relationships. So a woman who is on our arbitrary scale a 6 or 7, may only have access to 2-3 men in their life, and so whatever is true of the general population of men, picking only 2 or 3 at random, there is more chance all these men won't be a corresponding 6 or 7. Especially if quality becomes rarer as you progress up the numerical scale (eg. 50/100 men are 5's. 20/100 men are 6's. 8/100 men are 7's. 1/200 men are 10's.)

So hopefully how this contributes to the phenomena of women with loser guys becomes clear. Let's make it worse.

Say you are afraid of being alone. You are, what we call a 'serial monogamist' you don't think you can handle single life (you can but can't bring yourself to believe it). So now, not only are you a beggar in the relationship market, not only is it slim-pickings due to the social network you have access to, but now you don't even have a holding position for the dimension of time.

Dating to you, looks scarily like a game of musical chairs, and you have to desperately run to the next chair every time the music stops.

And here's the thing, to you all that matters is that it's a chair. It doesn't have to be a good chair, a well built chair, a respectful, nurturing, kind chair. Just a chair. And what then are the odds, that the chair's available the moment the music stops for you, is going to be a good one?

If You Don't Know Me By Now

The next likely suspect to explore is plain old incompetence. Another 'usual suspect'. Hanlon's Razor urges us never to attribute to malice, what is adequately explained by stupidity. (It's a more specific form of Occam's Razor.) I don't think we are dealing with either malice or stupidity here, but rather 'willful self-destruction' and 'a failure of empathy.'

For a demonstration of my own stupidity/inability to empathise: back when I worked in a call center, on the occasions I played 'guess the queen bee' with my lady friends, I never even got close. Not even contenders, just not even in the ball park. I couldn't tap into the intuitions.

So I have two propositions - 1) women aren't particularly good judges of male social status, and 2) women underestimate the impact on a guy's mental health of being low social status.

This in turn, leads to errors of consequence, errors in calculating the risks of a partner.

Thus I would challenge advice like 'don't judge a book by it's cover' (notice we don't have the similar saying 'don't judge a banana by it's skin, don't judge milk by it's smell, and don't judge an avocado by it's feel'). As you may see, the devil is indeed in the details, but it's still details on the cover.

So I designed a really terrible experiment prepared and carried out in less than an hour. Let's do some judging of covers, I asked four female friends of mine I know to be amenable to sex with men to judge these two fictitious men I whipped up. The question being, if you saw these men on Tinder, would you swipe yes to both, one or neither:



Highly subjective I know. As of writing, 3 got back to me, and I should say, it's really hard to design this experiment because losers do come in all shapes and sizes and I have some thoughts on Tinder's design specific to women on how it is particularly limited, but that's another post.

Thus prejudiced though I am, I'm not drawing hard conclusions from an experiment so limited in both design and sample.

here's the tally from the 3 out of 4 women that responded:

Bachelor no 1, 2 yes 1 no.
Bachelor no 2, 3 no's.

What I suspect exists, and was hoping to find, was proof of the existence of a woman who would say no to the first, and yes to the second. I'm assured by my respondents that they are confident such women exist. But the limits of this experiment and its sample is such, that at best what I could say is that the existence of such women, cannot be excluded from the possible.

And what cannot be excluded I feel is critical. My friend who said 'no' on the first, described him as arrogant, a wanker. This is an inference.

My friend who said she 'only wants to say yes to the first, but knowing my history, both' on further probing said she felt there was a greater chance the second was a loser. Curiously my control friend's main reason for rejecting the second was that he looks 'barely legal' and hadn't 'grown into his puppy fat yet.' I had not taken this outcome into consideration when I designed it.

As with 98% of dilemmas I present to friends, I feel there is a correct answer to them. And not because I just imagined the backstories of these two guys, but the criteria I take is risk management.

I feel my respondent that ruled out the second on account of a higher probability of loserdom, has the correct risk management strategy. There are positives you can at least conclude about the first - he is capable of forming a positive self image. He has good posture, he is tall, and appears to be in good health which is a good (not perfect) predictor of mental health.
The first man is looking 'askance' into the camera, if you observed this in the street it indicates from eye tracking that he is interested in you.
What cannot be concluded is if he is arrogant, a wanker, not from this photo. The context is swiping on Tinder, and I feel, this is a guy where you 'may as well' like him, whether he is a wanker or arrogant will come out quickly in chat (as it might if scrolling through his photos and found pictures of him kissing his curled bicep, and standing in front of a car with a spoiler would, this experiment is limited in design.)

The second guy I drew to be ambiguous also, I tried to make him the biggest loser I could imagine without losing touch with being plausibly 'adorkable'. (also without him resembling one of my actual friends) The most I pushed him into being an unambiguous loser was the lines under his eyes - indicating possible stress, fatigue, anxiety.
Firstly, there's not much you can positively conclude he at least demonstrates, except maybe 'at least he isn't wearing a neck tie' or 'at least he has hands'.
I see more red flags - his posture and body language are apologetic, indicating he possibly doesn't think much of himself, his facial hair is neither groomed nor clean shaven, he's wearing a full tracksuit and doesn't appear to be in shape, which runs the risk that he isn't good at taking care of himself (he may dress like rocky, but he isn't in training).
The second guy is very open, very vulnerable and also looking askance but in this case it's not into the camera and therefore not attempting to make a connection with you (something I do in most of my photos) and crucially he isn't pointing his ear at the camera, indicated that he's a primarily auditory learner, a small minority. Thus indicating he isn't interested in you (the camera) and is instead communicating 'here I am, what do you make of me?' indicating a fair chance of the egocentricity; symptomatic of the anxious.
This is a man who at best, chooses to be submissive because he has nothing to prove, is very secure in himself. That's an optimistic inference though, because of the lines under his eyes. It's more likely that he is incredibly insecure to the point of having given up. He can't fail if he doesn't try, he self-deprecates because he's in control if he gets their first. He's preoccupied with control because he's stressed out by never feeling in control. Furthermore I feel it's a safer inference that he is likely the kind of guy a friend has cajoled into getting onto Tinder, possibly even reluctantly posed for this photo for them, so he already has people in his life taking responsibility for him, upping the risk that they might be foisting him on you.
To me, he's likely to be dangerous.

The first guy, I'd concede if there's anything to worry about, it's getting entangled with a narcissist, and that's what I'd watch for in conversation. The friend who said no to him, interestingly apart from inferring he was a wanker and arrogant, was that 'High status males will care too much about what I wear and how I make them look.' there's something very sad about that sentence upon reflection, but more to the point I would feel in the context of swiping on Tinder, that's worth testing because of the potential upside of getting a confident, secure partner with good mental health.

My reasoning might make me look like a psycho, and you may wonder if when I'm on Tinder I have a pad and pen and am taking notes on all the non-verbal cues. Rest at ease, I don't, I have to study reading into this stuff to be a better artist and in my own case, because sometimes my intuitions draw me to things that should repel me.

However, most people are prejudiced in some way, and it's important to note, to not be prejudiced is to actually judge both books by their cover, not to say it's okay to judge this guy by his cover, but not this guy because he seems downtrodden. That prejudice I speculate, is an open door to motivated reasoning, self deception, and it is probably a manifestation of a wish to be irresponsible, unaccountable ourselves because life would be so much easier.

Forget logocentricity too, if there's something people en masse are prone to privilege it's the conscious over the unconscious. It originates in the self, thinking we are thinking rather than experiencing the phenomena of our thoughts, we believe who we really are is who we tell ourselves we are and don't notice ourselves rationalizing, believing instead we are reasoning. We extend this privilege reciprocally to others.

I've seen women wearing shirts that read 'Strong Women Intimidate Boys and Excite Men.' I figure the inverse is probably true, here the distinction between Boys/Men or Girls/Women is one of emotional maturity. By the by I feel obliged to take every opportunity to express that if you need a shirt to notify the general public you are strong, you almost certainly aren't and should trade in that shirt for some therapy coupons.

The errors are asymmetrical in my opinion. Confusing healthy confidence with arrogance, and prematurely ruling out someone who should be a 'yes' is a much safer mistake than confusing anxiety for modesty, humility or authenticity and saying yes to a guy who should be a 'no.' This is a dangerous mistake. But I'll come to that later. In brief, missing out on a good thing is safer than landing a bad thing. If you are going to make an error, make the first, not the second.

It's the Economy Stupid III Kissing Toads

I feel in my experience this is a common cognitive dissonance possessed certainly in women and probably across the board.

Imagine if you went to a job interview, and the recruiter went through your resume, asked you questions focused on demonstrating your competent behavior. You nail it, you're qualified, you've worked hard for your expertise and experience and you take work seriously and are a consummate professional. The interviewer feeds back as much to you and you walk out feeling confident you'll receive an offer.

Now the interviewer ushers in the next applicant. They go through this person's resume, ask them questions and establish quite thoroughly, that this candidate is not qualified, nor competent, nor professional, nor mature or composed.

And the recruiter thanks them and ushers them out, and thinks 'with a lot of effort, time, patience and energy, a few years of coaching and mentoring and attention, training courses and investment, that second candidate could one day be actually a competent employee.'

And of course they hire the second candidate. They don't want a qualified, competent employee, they want to roll the dice on what after great expense could be a potential competent employee.

So this seems crazy in an organizational context. Hiring the second over the first is such a clear betrayal of shareholder equity, a gross neglect of fiduciary responsibility.

Maybe not that far, but I know people who have this double standard when it comes to relationships, including a former incarnation of myself. And part of my way out of that was adopting as a tenet of faith: 'wanting someone to change is at the direct expense of the anyone who already is that person.'

Attachment theory explains this mindset of course, and why it manifests in so many people, someone who is already who you wished your father was, doesn't allow you to prove to yourself that you had it within you to change your (relationship with) father.

And incompetence plays a role here too, largely in either overestimating our capacity to turn a toad into a prince, or overestimating their capacity/will to transform themselves.

Of course, in investment circles 'the turnaround' investment strategy does exist, CEO's entering a company believing they can turn it around. Warren Buffet to whom I will defer, says his substantial experience is there are very few managerial princesses whose kiss can transform toads into princes.

This appears to also be true of love, both in the prevalence of poor investors, and the scarcity of success stories.

In summary, women with loser partners are inept investors looking for a bargain, rather than buying something proven, which promises proven returns.

A Slave to Love or a Lover of Slaves

The place: Egypt. The time: Ancient. Two guys are out in the hot hot sun, one has a whip and he's whipping away, the other is dragging a pyramid brick.

Now to you, whipping is a deal-breaker. Fair enough, great criteria. But what of the guy being whipped?

Is it hot to get whipped? 'Slave-Morality' is not a BDSM thing, but a hobby horse of Friedrich Nietzsche, and I feel he'd probably say I'm using it wrong here. But I'm saying it's a mode of thinking where the fact that the whipped slave is being whipped is interpreted as some kind of character virtue.

Which is basically to say, a logical fallacy - the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises of the argument.

So the fallacy or error goes a something like this: guys with whips are cruel, guys without whips are therefore kind.

I have no problem with cruel = bad, and kind = good. But consider how an empirical skeptic might reason: a man with a whip who whips people is cruel, a man with a whip who doesn't whip people can be assumed with a degree of confidence to be kind, a man without a whip we can draw no conclusions about at all.

Now, I don't think this is happening per se. However a lot of what many of my female friends say online, and some of the couplings I observe lend some plausibility that this sense of 'slave-morality' may be in play to a probably lesser extent. I find it implausible because I do not privilege the conscious mind (espoused beliefs) over the unconscious (behavior).

I also include it because it's a non-parental explanation of how a woman might wind up with a 'loser' type. It's having experiences of certain guys, forming a kind of 'anti-type' that then defines your type.

Pure speculation, but say your experience of secondary school was one of working hard to achieve good grades and yet your experience of who among the class gets decorated or celebrated were consistently the outgoing, charismatic-bordering-on-obnoxious guys that didn't take school seriously.

Perhaps in secondary school, and now in adulthood you laud not necessarily positive affirmative traits like kindness, respect, tolerance, humility. But simply the absence of traits you associate with your anti-type, guys which might be described as timid, shy, short, introverted.

The problem being, these traits are completely compatible with cruelty, condescension, intolerance, arrogance. Furthermore, particular to women is the fact of sexual-dymorphism, where the average guy in his social environment may be incapable of pushing other guys around and dominating them physically, but he is entirely capable of pushing around an above average woman in height and weight. (a 5'9" male is taller than 58.6% of American Males, a 5'9" woman is taller than 94.1% of American women.)

What is ethical behavior? In the meat market of people at least, moral conduct should be restricted to positive evidence, the presence of behavior that substantiates kindness, honesty (where it would be more convenient to be dishonest), tolerance. And while there's nothing wrong with deal-breakers per se, it is not enough to select based solely on behavior that substantiates cruelty, arrogance, intolerance, deceptiveness, and particularly if it's second string associations with these character traits like height, physical strength, intelligence that give a man the opportunity to be cruel or obnoxious or domineering in everyday life.

Back to ancient Egypt, and you being the slayin' African Queen you are ask the slave driver for the whip and he complies, and then you hand that whip to the slave. Does the fact he has lived his recent life a slave make it unlikely that now liberated he won't turn around and start whipping the slave driver?

The danger of course with sexual selection in place of whip distribution, is that women through their sexual selectivity cannot arm the little guys against the big guys. You aren't putting your anti-type in any danger, you are just putting yourself in potential danger as the most convenient soft target for your boyfriend's resentments.

All is fair in Love and War

I can safely defer to biologists on the different reproductive strategies of males and females in the greater animal kingdom. However, non-dominant cuttlefish disguising themselves as females so the dominant males will come in their mouths instead of fertilizing women is not what I'm talking about, because to me that's brains vs brawn.

I know two guys who have actually read 'The Game' and I am neither of them. In contrast virtually ever woman I've ever met post publication of that book (the last decade) appears to be well versed in the techniques of pick up artists (pua).

Despite this, it appears techniques I regard as unethical like 'negging' appears to be effective even when women are familiar with the practice. Few women have internalized Eleanor Roosevelt's advice 'nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.'

I know it's likely to be laden with preconceptions, but if we just use an arbitrary numerical scale, and say Johnny is an 8, women who are 8 themselves like him, 7's love him, and given that 8+ men are rare it's possible that in most contexts of his life, women who are 9's and 10's also give him their attention. By contrast Aziz is a 4, slightly worse than average, the average woman is congenial to him, polite, they'll accept his friend requests but avoid him.

Aziz has incentive to try and 'cheat'.

So he could work out, start eating right, groom himself and learn to maintain a clean and hygenic home. There isn't much he can do to get smarter or taller, but he could broaden his interests by taking dance classes, picking up new hobbies and interests etc.

Or he could employ a set of techniques to have a woman who is a 7, begin to truly feel that she is a 4. As per attachment theory, this work may have already been done by her father, but I suspect negging is basically this process, albeit as a 'pick up' technique it's pre-relationship.

Another cheating strategy is a guy delegating responsibility for his mental health to his partner, with specific tactics being things like threatening to commit suicide if she leaves him, or tasking her to placate him from becoming violent.

These are all less rewarding, but more importantly, much less work than actually dealing with your issues and shortfalls as a guy.

And the last form of unethical behavior, brings me to Aziz Ansari. His 'bad date' expose is I believe an under-discussed episode in a year of men being exposed for exposing themselves.

The expose didn't reveal overt sexual assault, just someone who is bad at sex. What it did reveal when contrasted with his recent career is somebody willing to say anything to get his dick sucked. It gave lie to the responsible, respectful character he conveyed himself as in the opening scene of his Master of None series.

This isn't a guy using brilliance to overcome superficial shortfalls to get the girl and leave the jocks shaking their heads, this is insincerity, cynicism. In the case of Aziz, it's something to watch out for yourself if you espouse radical progressive beliefs. In my experience, the people that will struggle the most with this form of sycophantic deception will be the New-Age crowd, people who have put spiritual practice front and center of their lives and privilege intuition, because this rarely pairs with skeptical inquiry.

So in the previous sections, one of my assertions was that it is good to learn to distinguish between actual achievement and posturing, and actual modesty and anxiety, we could add to that list learning to distinguish between guys who speak with the courage of their convictions, and guys who will gladly pay lip service for some lip service.



If You Don't Know You By Now

I just want to signpost, that I intend at some indistinct point in the future to write a post about Tinder, and another about my own attempts to reconcile with my superficiality. But I'm not going to exposit here.

Using the arbitrary numerical scale again, if there's the kind of error where women can't tell a 4 guy from a 7 guy, there's a corresponding error which is a woman thinking she is a 4 when male consensus would be she is a 7.

This is my general impression of a gender difference between the two most common - male and female, which is: men tend to overvalue their physical attractiveness and women tend to undervalue their physical attractiveness.

I suspect women have a tendency, and not for no reason, to compare themselves to the extreme rather than the average. It's just a mathematical fact that almost half of all women are above average in physical attractiveness.

And yeah, the media is saturated with examples of the extremes of female attractiveness and the average is grossly underrepresented, but this is because it's easy to use these extremes to sell both men and women shit they otherwise wouldn't buy. Just like there's a direct correlation between how much of a food you sell and how much refined sugar you add to it.

As far as I've read and gathered from observation. Women gauge male attractiveness like balancing a characters stats in an RPG. There's a set of criterion like height, beauty/fitness, intelligence, material success, humor etc. of which the more boxes a man ticks the more attractive he is to the general female population.

I believe the perception of how men evaluate women is a single criteria: hotness.

This isn't a terrible perception to hold, but it probably does screw up a lot of ladies' Tinder profiles if oversubscribed to. Consider by analogy the plight of the tall single woman. Owing to sexual dymorphism, the average woman is shorter than the average man. A woman taller than the average man, now struggles with a societal norm - that you date a guy taller than you.

So for a woman who is 5'11 or 190cm tall, she will restrict her pool of potential guys to those 6' or 2m tall and over. Height becomes a threshold criteria that men have to pass before any other personality traits come into play.

I feel most men, physical attractiveness operates like this, of course attractiveness isn't as simple a metric as height and cultural influences can skew it a bit, but spoiler for my own findings on male (my) superficiality - cultural influence is negligible. Safe bets are the luster of a woman's hair, the symmetry of her face (or how close to the population average her features are), the size and shape of her mammaries and most importantly, the hip-to-waist ratio.

I'm somewhat generalizing my own experience out to the population of heterosexual men, but my best guess is, that if you hit the level of physical attractiveness that is on par or exceeds the level of attractiveness of women that generally pay attention to that particular guy, then you don't need to exert any more effort trying to be more physically attractive. It is in fact a wasted effort.

Another way of saying this is that every woman is in with a shot, but not every woman is in with a shot with everyone.

From this threshold personality traits, values, interests these things are important and the presence of positive and novel ones make a woman more attractive.

Even though this post is already fucking long, I am going to digress a little because it is tangentially relevant. I was hanging out with a female friend once at an event, and I was attracted to this woman because she was not only attractive in appearance but really funny, she made me and others laugh. Then we ran into a colleague who I really didn't like, largely because I thought she was probably had a personality disorder that I frankly found scary. While I was distracted day dreaming ways to cut the conversation off and escape, I tuned in to hear this scary girl say 'guys find funny women intimidating, you probably experience it too?' or something like that.

I could have interjected, cleared up a misconception and set the record straight. I didn't. What I thought but didn't say is. 'Guys love funny women. It is news to me however, that you are funny.' Trying to be funny, and failing, is repulsive, and I'm sure women know what I'm talking about there. Furthermore, Eddie Murphy explained this crudely in either Delirious or Raw 'Don't get me wrong, you gotta be hot too. I don't want no funny, ugly bitches.' Which is that threshold criteria.
Physically unattractive women who are funny are welcome company too, albeit you're going to get friendzoned, but I honestly am skeptical that any guy finds funny women intimidating. And as per the shirt slogan, how is being intimidating anything to complain about? It's an effective filter for selecting a desirable mate - he who can stand up to the 'intimidation'.

My friend from my shoddy tinder profile experiment also asked about whether guys dislike intelligent women, which apparently is a common perception. Intelligence is a bit trickier, and I'm less confident to generalize my preference out to the broader male population. Where humor is binary, you are either funny or you aren't (if you intentionally pun, you aren't). Intelligence isn't binary like humor, it's relative.

What that means is what Nietzsche said 'I hate him who steals my solitude without providing me company' which is, the smarter the guy, the smarter (or stupider!) you have to be to avoid your intelligence being repulsive.

What is attractive about intelligence is the ability to stimulate thought, this comes from being able to offer different and novel ways of looking at things. Very intelligent people can do this for each other by virtue of cognitive horsepower. 'Stupid' people have a natural advantage at unique perspectives because they generally have one owing to their intuitions and understandings being so bad, they become endearingly fascinating provided they are harmless.

Unfortunately, as you approach the middle of the bell curve, the suburbs of cognitive ability where most people hang out, the less surprising and interesting you get, the more contrived your opinions seem. And to steer it back as to how this effects self perception errors of a woman's own attractiveness, here is what is cruel, for both men and women:

If you are above the average of intelligence, even nominally, you are likely to be told you are smart by parents and teachers and other authority figures. What I suspect is meant by this, isn't that you are a genius, up there with the best of them, but that you are not stupid, people aren't going to call you a moron.

I have been told I'm smart all my life, but if I stand next to Noam Chomsky, I am a fucken moron. If we were co-presenters, my smartest play is to let him do all the talking because I will have nothing of value to contribute, my every utterance will merely make the audience want me to shut up. And the potential disparities for intelligence between two individuals are much greater - if you are someone objectively described as tall, you aren't going to meet people ten times your height. The same is not true if you are objectively called smart, you can meet people who dwarf you in their cognitive abilities.

Thus if you feel your intelligence is a turn-off to guys, there's two things I suspect may be happening - the first is that it isn't your superior intelligence but how you conduct yourself. Are you acting like an arsehole shitting on people? because many intelligent people do. Secondly, check that you haven't grossly overestimated your cognitive abilities, or given that it's very hard to tell how intelligent you aren't, at least come to terms with the realities of the distribution of intelligence.

The biggest culprit for feeding an illusion of superiority is the education system, which encourages a misconception that it is primarily testing for intelligence. The clue, is that it emerged from the Industrial revolution - Western Education is testing for industriousness. Industrious/conscientious people get As on their test results, intelligent people rock up to the exam barefoot and hungover having done 20 minutes of revision on their way to the exam, leave early because they don't want to miss the McDonald's Breakfast Menu cutoff and still get As.

Steering back to the main subject, it looks to me like women are prone to underestimating their physical attractiveness but could be prone to, like men, overestimate their personal, interior qualities.

An overestimation error of your character virtues, is likely to be unattractive in and of itself, because grievances and frustration is not attractive, to my knowledge, to anyone. Particularly when they aren't legitimate. It also appears that on balance, overestimating your inner beauty does not cancel out the impact of underestimating your outer beauty, resulting in some hypothetical confidence equilibrium.

My suspicion is, many women feel an attractiveness deficit, the implication of which is that you feel you have to tolerate more shortfalls in your partner than you probably do in reality.

And again, because it is worth repeating: 'The treatment someone tolerates reveals what they think of themselves.'

Advice is tricky on this point. I don't feel other heterosexual women are necessarily credible sources of feedback on a woman's attractiveness due to social pressure and failures of empathy. Imagine if you will me going to my straight male friends and asking them 'bros, am I a hunk or a dinghus?' do you really think they would have any worthwhile feedback? (Much as I like to fancy my bros would call me a dinghus, even if in truth I were a hunk.)

I guess I'd say get empirical, don't look to the extremes and measure your distance from them, but look at the distribution. Get yourself looking to the average, even if you fall short of average that's a big difference to how far you fall short of the extreme upper limit.

Furthermore the advantage every woman on earth has over the woman on the billboard is that you are actually there. The only distribution that matters is the distribution in the social circle you are in. If you and three average women, and Ryan Gosling and two average men find yourselves rushing into an underground bunker, Gosling isn't going to say 'well none of you women are up to scratch, I'll never love again.'

 Even yet Furthermore, expand beyond the visual because men are making errors too. Also take time to remind yourself there are other senses like touch and feel, and it is much safer for women to use touch to attract men than the reverse. Although it does happen, men dumping or leaving women because they 'let themselves go' is rarer than fear might have us perceive. I believe this is because within a relationship the corrective is administered, 10 extra kilos has no impact on the hedonic experience of sex. It may even make sex feel better.

A Double Coincidence of Wrongs

This overlaps entirely with attachment theory, but doesn't necessarily need a low self esteem to come from parental sources or early childhood experiences. A low self-esteem might arise from a schooling or peer-group environment much later in development.

Attachment theory and a bio-psycho-social model both are compatible with self-verification-theory one implication of which is if a woman feels like a loser herself - she will seek to verify this evaluation in the partner she selects, rather than dis-confirm it

This is distinct from victim blaming, because it is largely unconscious. I would express it as two wrongs make for a double wrong - the first wrong is that a woman thinks less of herself than others, particularly men, do. The second wrong is in overestimating her ability at change. This makes her susceptible to a 'garbage in, garbage out.' her low self-esteem coupled with a sincere and earnest desire to get to another place means she accepts a guy of low esteem to set out on that journey together overlooking the possibility that maybe she should start her journey at the destination.

A bio-psycho-social model predicts that who you wind up friends with, isn't an accident. For a simple example, if you go to medical school, it is almost certain you will wind up with a bunch of friends who are medical students, but I don't think a student sitting exams is thinking 'I'm doing this because I want to hang out with med-students!' they do it because they want to be a doctor.

A simple hypothesis for how someone with low self-esteem winds up with a loser is if you have social anxiety, and medicate this anxiety by drinking at social events. Chances are you are going to wind up in social situations where everyone feels self medicating anxiety through alcohol is a norm. If you hook up with a guy when drunk it improves the odds that he is a guy who does not possess the confidence to ask you out when sober, who also feels it's acceptable to medicate rather than address mental health issues and thus is likely to apply the same standards to himself.

Which is problematic, if your conscious mind is set upon using a relationship as a vehicle to get to a better place, because you've both demonstrated behaviorally that you prefer to avoid the hard work.

Risk follows Reward

Now I'm getting into far more speculative territory. You are better able to tell me as a woman, than I am you. But what I can do is posit a theory for your disconfirmation.

That is the more attractive a suitor, the greater your fear of rejection, either up-front or down the line. Particularly if you are a romantic and believe you get one shot at a soul-mate. He talks to you, you get anxious, intimidated. You like him, but your attitude toward risk is such, that interactions are somewhat viscerally unpleasant because you are terrified of coming across badly, slipping up, committing a faux pas. Particularly if things you find attractive are also intimidating, like height, intelligence, confidence.

However risk is a measurement of uncertainty, thus the safest romantic state is to be single. With a particularly desirable partner, asking them out might produce one of the happiest, most exciting states of Euphoria. Or it might be a humiliating and disillusioning experience where one is confronted with one's own mind's ability to confabulate nothing into evidence of requited love. Furthermore it may mean a sudden and abrupt end to the pleasure gained from prospecting on what a happy relationship would be like (Dan Gilbert's book 'Stumbling on Happiness' addresses and documents this phenomena - finding an inverse correlation between how vividly a person describes asking their crush out and the likelihood they would actually ask them out).

How much less risky then to just go with a guy who happens to be around. Who doesn't excite us, and for whom you feel more or less indifferent as to whether he is into you or not? When he says no, you could wipe your brow and say 'phew, dodged a bullet there. What was I thinking?' and when he says yes, you think 'oh well, give it time.'

Jealousy may work on Venus

I've tried and failed to dig up the article where I read this, but apparently men and women respond to the introduction of sexual rivals differently.

Women, upon entry of a rival woman apparently ups her game, gets aggressive, flirts harder, talks more shit all of that. Fun fact there is a Wikipedia page on Female Intrasexual competition but not one for Male intrasexual competition.

In the article I can recall reading but cannot find, it said that when presented with a rival, men tend to withdraw.

What I could find was this write-up on female aggression that sum's up quite nicely "To that end, men may want to ask whether ‘getting the girl’ is worth the spilled blood and broken bones" to which the answer is usually 'no', no it isn't.

In modern social context, the risks of getting into a violent altercation with another man are quite high: death, lose of sight, loss of hearing, paralysis, disfigurement, instant dismissal, litigation, jail-time and of course, losing the girl.

Violence is so costly, men have developed hardwired ways to avoid it. For example using our eyesight however, it isn't even an unconscious calculation of whether you'd win a fight or not I suspect, that largely drives withdrawal.

I am guessing it's a two way failure of empathy. He interprets her behavior by projecting his own attitudes onto her - she predicts his response by projecting her own response.

I cannot not recommend this strategy for women enough. It's not to say if you like a guy you must abandon all male acquaintances, and be singularly devoted. What I would recommend is just asking him out instead.

How this explains women dating loser guys, is pretty mathematical. The guy you are trying to make jealous is your number 1, any guy you would employ to evoke jealousy must therefore be lesser a number 2. If the introduction of 2 causes 1 to withdraw, you wind up with number 2. Aka a turd.

Haters Gonna Hate

The last I swear, because I'm fucking tired now and in terms of likelihood of contributing, I at least feel like I'm reaching. So let me reach, I imagine there's a lot of overlap between male and female aggression, however I feel there's a distinct correlation in these specific ways:

masculine aggression - 'Get the fuck out of my way.'
feminine aggression - 'Get the fuck back in line.'

Which is to speculate again going back to the completely arbitrary numerical scale, women's needs for belonging, social belonging and social connection combined with female aggression may handicap a woman who is a 7 back to a 5...

I don't know, it sounds wrong, or certainly cannot be that simple. One thing I feel that makes me particularly bad at identifying ranking of women in their social hierarchy is sheer irrelevance. So if the most attractive male wants to date the 6th socially influential female when the most influential female is available, there's sweet fuck all that most influential female can do about it.

But maybe not. The costs could be enormous to women to break ranks and utilize their natural advantages. Even if their partner is high status enough to buffer them from complete social rejection and ostracism, the woman then becomes dependent on her partner not for social status but just plain social needs.

This article from the NY Times is a good illustration, though it would be highly contentious I suspect in most feminist discourse.

But does that really translate to dead-weight boyfriends being acceptable where to all but high status females (whether they are attractive to men or not) the high status men are off limits. And a woman who is attractive to these men might face a choice between attention from men and scorn from her peers.

They stared at her, looked her up and down, rolled their eyes and sometimes showed outright anger. One asked her in disgust, “What the [expletive] is that?”

Conclusion

I have no fucking conclusion. It's some mix of my over-estimating the esteem some women feel or women under-estimating their esteem/worth. Attachment theory is probably the explanation in 90% of cases, but market forces just mathematically seem like they are going to collide with this shit.

Postscript

One of my friends I discussed particularly my own judgmental take on guys, did make me realize that I might need to substantiate the danger of dating 'a loser' however you might want to define it.

And I would be inclined to define loserdom as a loser is as a loser does. I would bet that loser-behavior stems from feeling like a loser.

I can certainly imagine that it is almost a universal perception, if not experience, to no matter how successful in life feel underappreciated, overlooked, devalued, degraded and treated unfairly. From that I can be empathetic with a projected expectation that there's a subset of men who have also been held down, overlooked, oppressed. And certainly there are. Time and chance happens to us all, but this subset is probably smaller than imagined. There's a large chunk of men who occupy a low status and have high stress levels and corresponding anxieties simply as a result of their incompetence.

So yeah, absolutely, you may find a bargain, a prince among the paupers, an Op-shop find. It happens, I know some.

Here's the thing, a guy may think it is really great if he is punching above his weight. And again I concede, some guys can handle it and manifest nothing but a deep sense of gratitude. More frequently I suspect, these guys feel like they are carrying their life savings around in cash with absolutely no security. They see competition, and more likely 'threats' everywhere to a level bordering on paranoia.

They might then be the guy that gets into fights with any guy on the street that looks at their girlfriend, or smacks their girlfriend around for looking at any other guys. They may wage a psychological war on you, putting you down, belittling and humiliating you in front of your friends, gas-lighting etc.

They will almost certainly waste your time, months, years, decades of your life that could have been spent feeling much better about life than you do, even as a single person. And the effects this may have on you, when you date in your 'flirty 30s' or 'naughty 40s' may linger long after the dud relationship itself did.

Men are dangerous, I would argue especially the weak ones, because they are those who go after soft targets. If you will indulge me and flick on your psychopath switch for a moment, imagine a future where the only time a women is killed by a man, it is always outside of the home. If dangerous men have to be anywhere, they shouldn't be inside your house by invitation, by matrimony.

And I will reiterate that I will defer to the Australian Police Officer that says domestic abuse is not restricted to any socio-economic class. This isn't just about avoiding poor-uneducated men, it's about avoiding irresponsible, self-loathing men.

During the course of writing this I listened to this podcast, which I feel is both valuable and sobering, and perhaps it's even worth going a step further and reading 'The Gift of Fear'. Although the world will never be as dangerous for me as it is for women, I have certainly found the heuristic 'how do they make you feel?' a useful tool in getting the wrong people out of my life. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

On Postmodernism?

"The Buddha says with our thoughts we create the World" ~ Monkey Magic, English Dub.

"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." ~ Shakespeare, Hamlet.

"There is obvious truth to the Cynic Monimus' statement that 'all is opinion'; and obvious, too, is the usefulness of this statement if a man profits from it insofar as it is true." ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book Twix.

Does an external objective reality exist? I do believe so. What I'm not so confident in, is that it's nonviable to believe that everything is but a social construction - a matter of perception.

Better minds over multiple lifetimes have contemplated the problem that experience itself happens within our own nervous system. Long before the Matrix philosophers were wondering how we tell if we aren't a brain in a vat. How do I know my experience of blue isn't your experience of red, Des Cartes established his own existence by asserting he's thinking and therefore is.

If you are in camp reality, then you basically believe that beliefs can be insulted by reality. A belief you are immortal will get slapped down when you are crushed by a boulder and what not.

What though of more subtler cases, like the Buddhist teaching that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional, or corresponding in the West, the stoic aim of being able to laugh upon the torturers rack?

Their is certainly subjective experience too, I'm given frequent examples where two people can look at the exact same stimulus and come to different conclusions. One may think that 'Chicken & Waffles' sounds delicious while another thinks it sounds disgusting. Is one right and the other wrong? Well no, because here reality becomes subjective.

Being myself a person who wants to believe that there is an objective reality, I've for a long time used the reconciliation of the subjective into objective reality with phrases like 'opinions are facts, but not all opinions are factual.' which is to say, we often have to deal with the reality, of an unreality a person might believe in.

Take as an example, a man who believes secret government satellites can read his mind. He has no concrete proof the satellite exists, nor can he provide any substantiation as to why government agents would be interested in the contents of his mind, yet regardless it shapes his behavior in the form of wearing an aluminium foil hat. And he and the people who interact with him have to deal with his unsubstantiated belief as though it were a description of an objective reality.

Thus opinions about the existence of conspiracies are part of the reality anyone has to contend with. Witness Obama having to release his long form birth certificate.

Then there's more trivial instances like sour grapes - derived from an Aesop fable where the protagonist unable to obtain the grapes they desired, instead convinced themselves the grapes were sour and they never wanted them anyway. The mind certainly possesses this power to turn lust to revulsion and vice versa, love to hate. Hence 'sour grapes' is a meme that has stuck around.

Now enter the big versions, the social constructions - Gods, nations, and gender identities. Of this trinity we know for example that nations are completely socially constructed. Subset of this are the economies we all operate in, the money whose only real utility is as money, bearing no alternative use.

The God debate is probably a much safer example given that militant athiesm either went out of style or ran out of steam/attention a good decade ago. But the gods that have stuck around tend to have retreated into a concept that is unfalsifiable. Which is to say, the Bible makes certain predictions about archeology, based on events it describes, yet the predictions get insulted due to an absence of evidence it predicts would remain of a worldwide flood, an mass migration exodus across a seafloor and the subsequent drowning of the pursuant army.

Virtually all religious claims about the nature of reality have bumped up against an alternative form of getting knowledge - the scientific process. Though science is restricted to experimentation it's a big part of it. And while the predictions made in some texts are wholly unimpressive in their reliability at describing my subjective experience of reality and others, there are texts that are remarkably reliable in their predictions.

One of the earliest being Ibn al-Haytham's books on Optics, where he described light travelling in a straight line sometime in the 8th century. And it is still the case that if I point a tube at a candle and look through it, I will see the candle flame, and if I remove my eye from the opening and look in another direction, the light will fail to bend around and enter my eye thus allowing me to still view the candle.

From these modest beginnings a communal knowledge base has snowballed into something that can describe an almost unbroken chain of the history of the universe. It fucks up continuously but is also continuously refined, by revealing the errors it makes.

Such that, for many, science is really the only game in town when it comes to the getting of knowledge. It's about the noble attempt of trying to make predictions that will be accurate indefinitely out into the future, be it tomorrow, in centuries or millennia from now.

Enter Jacques Derrida of which I've linked to a much better and more charitable summary of his life and ideas than I could ever offer. To be honest, I'm probably a fan of 'Deconstruction' and generally favor wanting to take weak positions on any issue, rather than strong ones and thus am all in favor of a state of 'Aporia'. But I bring him up because of 'Logocentricity'.

Logocentricity describes our tendency toward the 'logos', the logical, reasoning part of the brain. So the empirical method, experimentation, trying to work against our intuition is firmly in the Logos. Logocentricity draws attention to this privileging and implies a need to move away from, at least a dependence on the Logos.

Where I struggle, is if you are going to level a complaint like 'too logical' it leaves the alternative options ambiguous. And outside of gambling and risk taking, I'm not a fan of ambiguity.

Is there another way to get knowledge? Reason, Science, Logic are a binding form of knowledge, they subtract from the possible by disproving things. Fundamentally this process puts restrictions on what we can believe is true. It says we can't fold a puddle, nor slice gas into quarters, and among other things, spoiled the fun of turning lead into gold, or shooting heat rays from our eyes.

One unpleasant thing of science, is we may not like what science gets us. In which case would it be good to have an alternative?

I can jump on board certain criticisms of logocentricity. The unintelligible should not be confused with the unintelligent. A piece of music can be persuasive on a purely emotional level. There's also Nassim Nicholas Taleb's beautiful 'Green Lumber Fallacy' for which one does not need to understand something intellectually in order to use it successfully, correctly.

There are people I'm told, that are such hardcore materialists, that they would have people cease to say things like 'I'm happy' and replace it with 'my serotonin levels are increasing.' I regard these people as idiots, and I'm happier to use shorthands like 'happy' to describe emotional states.

And so on and so fourth, there's a place for the irrational within the useful, and converserly there are extremes to which the rational becomes not useful.

However, I am not sure a move away from logocentricity by necessity elevates any alternative to its equal. I don't personally believe, that we get to believe what we want. At the very least, that isn't the strategic play.

I'm impressed and impressionable to the Martial Philosophers, and the Classical philosophers (particularly the Cynics and the Stoics) because the dealt with a method of knowledge that was very exposed to insults from reality. The Cynics and Stoics appeared to have some immunity to the state of slavery which is why I will give them credence on describing an ideal state of mind. Similarly, when Musashi writes a treatise on combat, he does so having survived a lot of it and is writing about a form of knowledge that, when it doesn't work, you tend to die and then not be able to write about it.

If all is opinion, then not all opinions are equal, and to me the opposite in standing opinion wise to Musashi Miyamoto is 'the Parrot Who Cried Victory', a fable told in Marcos' book 'Our Word Is Our Weapon' about a Parrot that only knew one word 'victory' and at the conclusion of the anecdote the Parrot is actually swept up by an Eagle who proceeds to devour it, as it dies the Parrot keeps crying 'victory'.

The Parrot probably doesn't have an opinion about what constitutes a victory sure, and this probably never happened. But I can imagine a scenario where the avidly dedicated to seeing reality as is Musashi cuts down the Parrot who can only squawk victory, such that both parties ultimately achieve what they set out to.

Victory is in Musashi's mind because all there is to him is cutting down or being cut down. Victory is in the Parrot's mind because Victory is what it perceives to be victory, which is everything.

And while a 16th century Samurai fighting a parrot is of course completely a construction of my imagination, I feel most adults would have experienced playing a game with a child that can loosely be described as 'You lose, I win.' where that basically describes the rules of the game and the rest is all jazz improvisation. This game is not played well by children together 'Bang! you're dead' 'No you missed!' 'Na-uh, I have seeking bullets that can't miss.' 'But I have a force-field.' and so on.

The space in which we get to construct our own subjective reality requires the consent of others to live our reality. Adults are better at giving this consent perhaps than more egocentric children. I do not however believe that reality is capable of consenting, I'm a believer that 'truth will out'.

And I suspect all of us are to some extent, the brilliance revealed of Marcus Aurelius is in his qualification 'insofar as it is true.' and I feel that nobody is so hardcore in their belief that life is but a dream that we are dreaming, that they would find the word 'disillusioned' as unintelligible.

We can possess illusions for as long as we can avoid them being punctured. And thus, believing what we want becomes a practice of avoiding, typically that which prompts negative emotion. When I look back at the words of the Buddha, Shakespear and the Cynics and Stoics, I generally interpret that all are talking about acceptance, and fighting the intuition that acceptance is a passive, rather than positive act.

Were I a male Angler Fish though, would I be less motivated accept what the logos shows to be true and more motivated to avoid it?

Probably, I think myself lucky to be inhabiting the most privileged life available which makes accepting whatever explanation is offered to describe why I'm so lucky. Conversely if for example somebody tells me people from Asian populations test better on IQ tests than me and my kind, it's a pretty easy pill to swallow.

But avoiding is one thing at a certain (low) level of sophistication, and another as the sophistication of avoiding playing with reality at more sophisticated levels.

And here I have to begrudgingly mention Jordan Peterson because I suspect he is right to attribute much of popular left-wing beliefs as being a product of post-modernist thought. Where I'd push back, is that I've done an economics degree, and economics is an old hand at making up sophisticated ways to just ignore reality, and having gone through my degree I know it is possible for someone to study a degree in Economics and not realize or be informed they are actually studying 'Neo-Classical Economics' which is but one of many 'schools' of Economics.

Thus I don't know, but I suspect a bunch of people studying arts and humanities are never really informed that their worldview privileges Postmodernism. More of the phenomena being witnessed is a user friendly level 'believe what you want' behavioral trend that may have it's foundations in the theorising of Derrida and Foucalt, but it's easy to avoid the allegations of a JP, himself an accomplished obfuscator, by just saying 'no it's not' because possibly nobody ever told them they are educated with a Postmodern perspective.

And that too is understandable, at a Bachelor Degree level, does anybody want to actually fucking explain what something like this means:

"As soon as we cease to believe in such an engineer and in a discourse which breaks with the received historical discourse, and as soon as we admit that every finite discourse is bound by a certain bricolage and that the engineer and the scientist are also species of bricoleurs, then the very idea of bricolage is menaced and the difference in which it took on its meaning breaks down."

That's a quotable quote (translated admittedly) from Derrida. And bearing in mind it is me speaking, me who starts sentences and often paragraphs with 'And' the postmodernists are probably the worst writers I've ever come across, and I've read Academic Papers in Economics.

I'm not sure if the grand-daddies of post modernism can be blamed though, apart from perhaps committing the informal fallacy of 'blinding with science'. Or what I would describe as 'heavy lifting' which is to take the long way round evidence to get it to support what you want.

For example, if I have one apple, and then I pick another apple, then how many apples do I have? Well first let's deconstruct the concept of intergers and point out the historical privilege afforded to the Indian numeral system (commonly known as the Arabic numeral system) and notice that we are prejudicially comparing apples with apples when in fact the atomic boundaries of the fruit of the apple tree are at some point indistinct from the air that surrounds them, the structure is being penetrated by photons and other background radiation and at any given time what quantifies an apple is itself a historically prejudiced notion, also privileging sensations like sight over heft, touch, smell. All of which is to say, I have as many apples as I like.

The light lifting would be to just say I have two fucking apples. And there's perhaps good reason for the privileging of our system of intergers and our conception of what is a whole and distinct fruit, because I can bite into one apple piercing the skin and allowing the air to oxydize the flesh within it, and the other apple won't begin to oxydize and go brown, I can save my other apple for later, but once I eat both apples, I will have no fucking apples. (but that privileges possession as a quality of the hand and not the digestive track!).

I pick on postmodernism because of it's particular reputation for obfuscating language and because it criticizes 'Logocentricity' suggesting an alternative way of getting knowledge without clearly saying what that is.

Then I came across this meme shared by a friend on facebook, I don't know how serious it is:
Authored in hubris no doubt, for I would struggle to explain how 'Theory' fundamentally differs from Propaganda. History, I understand to be a science, one of the 'soft sciences' to be sure, but there's standards, rules, principles and furthermore it makes predictions that can be tested one way or another. For example, the Christian Bible as a history book, has been terrible at making predictions - like the presence of remains of an Egyptian host at the bottom of a sea, or archeological evidence of a 40 year mass migration of peoples from Egypt to Isreal. And when I was in primary school, I was taught that Captain Cook 'discovered' Australia, by high school the textbooks had been revised to say he mapped the East Coast of Australia and circumnavigated New Zealand, that the Dutch had been there before more than a century earlier and that it was used by Pirates and Privateers.

Some of history (most) is unknowable and becomes the province of Archeology, Geology and speculation, but in the presence of ignorance, not all speculative arguments are equal. For example, it's impossible to know if the person of Jesus ever actually existed, but the Historian's consensus is that he did, using an 'argument from Silence' which is to say, if he didn't exist we'd expect a bunch of different claims of Messiah like characters to crop up in texts from the same era as the Gospel scripture with one mentioning Jesus and another Pete. Instead they are all pretty consistent and in terms of Christian communities, Jesus is their man.

Moving on though, if History sometimes and at any given moment, might function as Propaganda (like what was taught to Australian school students to shore up a British Cultural identity about the discovery of Australia and the legal standing of the Aborigines) Propaganda could be described as history or other information unbound from objective reality to serve a motivated interest.

In which case by the time I get to 'Theory' if it refers to something other than testable, experimentally reproducible, logocentric theory accepted by the greater scientific community, then I don't know how to distinguish it from propaganda as a source of knowledge. My options are binary, either something describes reality or it doesn't.

And here I'd like to leave postmodernism and it's offshoots behind, and turn instead to spirituality. Particularly witch craft, astrology, tarot etc.

I am actually a person that does advise if you must read a newspaper, the most informative thing you can probably read in it is the horoscope. This however, is quite logical - most 'news' is white noise, narrative fallacies, effective gossip and information with no predictive power. Nassim Nicholas Taleb suggests 'to cure oneself of the news, spend a year reading yesterdays newspaper.' the weather for many may be more useful than the horoscope, but the horoscope is a sufficiently vague Barnum statement that it really functions as a dice role that will have you pause and reevaluate a spending decision, a prospective new romance, a move, a holiday, or how to interact with people at work.

I don't put much stock in Astrology as a personality test, or tool of prophecy, here for example is a description of me according to my birth chart, you be the judge:

In theory, *********s are peace-loving. In practice, they can quietly stir up all sorts of trouble with their ways. Because ******** enjoys balance in their lives, they seek the middle ground. In the process, they may end up trying to be everything to everyone. This is where their reputation for untruthfulness comes from. Generally, their untruths spring from a true desire for peace and fairness--although they may not be comfortable with direct and malicious trickery, they feel totally justified when they lie in order to avoid making waves. Peace at any price! In this sense, they seem harmless. But, what can result is quite a ruckus! People involved with ********s may crib about their lack of directness and their apparent inability to take a stand. ********s are experts at avoiding being the one to blame. When confronted, they'll (calmly and reasonably) say, "What, me? No, I just want peace." "On the fence", "middle ground", "middle road" -- these are all expressions that we can safely associate with ******.
And of course:

Weaknesses: does not think enough, he is frivolous. A dilettante in love. He is easily swayed by group pressure. ******* ascendant Aries

Amazing, and recently when asked for my star-sign, I have resorted to what I've increasingly been resorting to for 'peace at any cost' (apparently) and requesting 'you tell me' or 'can't you guess?' on the most recent occasion, they got my star sign on the 12th try, which even to the logocentric thinker is an impressive achievement.

But belief in astrology can persist beyond empirical proof. Carl Sagan a great scientific mind and greater communicator designed a very simple experiment anyone can reproduce that will reliably demonstrate that astrology is not a science - not a reliable source of knowing either what is going to happen today, or to know how a person will behave. Astrology becomes an alternative way of knowing, a way of knowing that for lack of a more intelligible expression knowing things that don't work.

A knowledge perhaps, that cannot be debunked and therefore is infinitely compatible. By analogy, the wretched science aka Economics is currently under threat of revision, from within - by a school called 'Behavioral Economics' and at the risk of oversimplifying, what behavioral economics does is say 'Economics as a science has to square with psychology.' Economics earned it's reputation as the wretched science because by-and-large it assumed away human irrationality, and government fiscal, monetary and taxation policy is based on the assertion that people don't believe in things like Astrology.

Economics is recently under pressure to square with the science of Psychology, Psychology in turn is forced to conform with Neuroscience, Neuroscience has to be compatible with Biology and Biology Chemistry, Chemistry has to conform to Physics. Pretty much everything we call a science at some level we expect to be explainable by physics and the achievements of Physics are impressive, you're looking at one of those achievements now.

Science, or the Logos, belongs to the Earth Element - a stable structure has to be built upon a foundation, each additional piece must fit that which comes before, or made to fit by correcting the new piece of knowledge or the old such that it fits together like the masonry of Machu Pichu.

By contrast, Astrology, Tarot, Witchcraft, Alchemy et al. are of the fire element, it has been my experience that one can simply feed theory after theory, model after model on top of one another with no necessity to reconcile say the Chinese Zodiac and the Western Zodiac, Chinese Numerology and British Nautical Superstitions. All can feed the fire, and this form of knowledge appears to be only limited by the power of an individual to assert its truth.

My belief is the definitive limit to what an individual can assert about reality is reality itself. None yet has the power to make reality behave. And cruelly, what does tend to work in the school of Logos-alternative thought, can be explained by the Logos and becomes part of it. The diversity and nature of religious beliefs on Earth are easily explained by Evolution through Natural selection, much more simply than the religions themselves can explain the phenomena. The effects of superstition can be explained by psychology through phenomena like confirmation bias, the placebo and nocebo effects.

It is thus I am concerned about a wholesale belief in the alternatives to Logocentricity, the idea that there is another game in town. There is a different game in town, but the logocentrics can game it. It can game itself.

The phenomena of believing what you want has a dangerous flaw in its design - my every experience of people who sign on to believing what they want is that it lays a ground ripe for exploitation. People who believe what they want, want to hear things, want to do things and have suspended their empirical faculties. It is a state the logocentric refers to as 'naive'.

I am concerned that a person could meet a kind, honest, intelligent, tolerant, generous, loyal, courageous, sensible person they are sexually oriented to be compatible with and upon learning they are a Sagittarius lose all interest. Finding instead a conceited, deceptive, petty, intolerant, duplicitous, cowardly, dumpster of a human being who is nevertheless a Scorpio and therefore, compatible.

This alternative form of knowledge, has one grounding and one grounding only in reality and that is power. As Orwell wrote in 1984, it's the power to say 2+2=5. And a world in which Pete has 2 apples and Jenny has 2 apples, and Pete gives Jenny 2 apples so she has 5 apples in exchange for a blowjob, that is problematic. This is the world many of my friends live in.

Power becomes the ability to speak without articulating any content. Without content, without definition, things become unfalsifiable. No religions are still extant today that claim 'after one does they travel to paradise, located approximately 10,000 paces north of our great town.' Nature selected such beliefs out, such that notions of the afterlife survive that nobody can go, except of course those who demonstrate amazing psychic abilities, the ability to communicate with those who have passed over but only so long as the communication is limited to them being safe and happy and in a good place and that all if forgiven. Not things like 'yeah and I left an updated copy of my will in the third draw of a filing cabinet in Uncle Pete's attic.' or anything specifically useful.

There is a somewhat well known test for artificial intelligence called 'The Turing Test' of which spawned the lesser known 'Reverse Turing Test' a person can be declared unintelligent if their text cannot be distinguished from a generated one. Before the Grievance Studies Affair, way back in 1996 (that's over 2 decades ago) Sokal ran his original hoax and a Monash professor programmed a postmodernism generator:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Or

Narrativity is intrinsically dead,” says Sontag; however, according to Cameron[4] , it is not so much narrativity that is intrinsically dead, but rather the genre, and subsequent absurdity, of narrativity. In Virtual Light, Gibson examines postcultural dialectic theory; in Neuromancer, he analyses precapitalist socialism. Thus, the premise of Marxist socialism implies that the task of the artist is social comment.
Which is actual writing from a postmodernist scholar and which is generated? The bigger question to me, is why are educated people insufficiently self-conscious to be embarrassed to speak this way? And most consequential of all, did stressed out humanities students realize they could just get a computer to write their thesis? Better than the reverse-Turing test is the 12 year old test. Could you explain your concept to a 12 year old? Yanis Varafoukis a discenting economist I respect did just this with his book 'Talking to my Daughter About the Economy' a book probably more positively consequential for the goals of feminism, than most postmodern texts.

Asserting truths onto reality leaves one open for exploitation and insult. An unsustainable practice where the best one can hope for is to create sufficient space for an assertion before it expires. When a belief is trying to survive I find the ability to steer a person who holds it. You can find the ground the cannot cede and have them against a wall, or you can goad them towards what they wish to conclude and watch them follow you into what they cannot distinguish peril from sanctuary. It is an act of self restraint on my part, and one that requires constant vigilance, to not exploit these boundaries people assert upon themselves.

Where a 'science' like Economics is guilty of these assertions, such as GNP growth as a measure of progress, it gets us into trouble. I can only testify to my experiences of being an economics student, but in both my secondary and tertiary instruction on Economics, to the wretched science's credit I was instructed as to the myriad problems of using GNP or GDP growth as a proxy measure of human progress, like for example that a catastrophe like an oil spill will increase GDP growth, but it is most certainly not progress to have oil spills, it is simply costly. The works of Kahneman and Tversky would describe the GDP error as an error of substitution, it is hard for a governing body to establish if its constituents are making progress towards higher quality of life, it is relatively easy to determine whether more finished products have been produced this year on last, so GDP or GNP gets substituted in.

Where Economics could be better is at admitting, part of reality is what people believe reality to be, and how it shapes their behavior. Many people change reality by believing what they want - such as lower taxation stimulates more growth, or that the market is an efficient value calculating machine that should be deregulated and left to it's own devices. It should do a better job of teaching students they often aren't studying economics but being prepared for the realities of the job market and learning instead Political Economy, the science of being restrained by the irrationality of public opinion.

'insofar as it is true' deserves to be the last word on whether you get to believe what you want or not. I could make a case, that the stoics are right, and better to adopt opinions and beliefs that are compatible with stark reality. But this would just be an opinion. All we have is experience, and experience of the present moment, I believe and would behave accordingly that coming to terms with and accepting reality, even unpleasant ones like that I may be at a natural disadvantage that requires no agents working against me, a may be not an individual but a cluster of inherited thoughts competing for dominance, a may be judged not by my merits but by the whims of fortune are I feel better for me than denying what reason shows to be true.

It is beyond my capabilities though to make a convincing case that objective reality exists and should be accepted. I can only live as such and subsequently continue to test this theory every day. My experience has been thus far, more comfort in harsh beliefs than those designed to be comforting.